Episode #31 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Pinot. Just the mention of the word causes many wine lovers to begin to salivate at the light, sweet fruit. Pinot. This fickle grape drives wine makers crazy with its thin skin, susceptibility to weather, and its influence from the soil. The high-maintenance drama queen of wine perpetuates passionate prose and is the ire of Merlot lovers everywhere.
Oregon winery, Willamette Valley Vineyards manages to gently coax 310 acres into beautifully crafted Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir (among a few others). Wine Enthusiast calls Willamette Valley Vineyards, “One of Americas great Pinot Noir producers year after year.” As you’ll see in the video, I whole heartily agree.
While the wine I’ve tasted is a palate pleaser, even more impressive is the wineries stance on being a steward of the land. From the basic reduce, reuse and recycle to a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2010, Willamette Valley Vineyards is a world leader of sustainability. One impressive program offers fifty gallons of biodiesel to employees every month (10 employees participate).
Those that know me (or watched my reviews) know that I have a love / hate relationship with Pinot Noir. My limited experience with the grape has left me with a sour view of what it can produce. I’m not giving up! A wine that generates so much passion must have an impressive upside.
2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir, 13%ABV, 37,446 cases produced
- The Swirl: Very translucent and clear. Borderline amethyst like tone
- The Sniff: A moderately restrained nose that produces gentle whiffs of sweet cherries or cranberries, woody oak, and vanilla.
- The Sip: A little thin on the initial attack but opens up to delicate raspberry / cherry with a dash of vanilla. The finish is slightly sweet and tart like a SweetTart candy.
- The Score: At $25, I score this wine a 3 (out of 5). It’s a very nicely made Pinot Noir. It lacks the brightness of flavor to score higher. At under $20 on sale this would be a solid wine.
2007 Signature Cuvee
- The Stuff: 100% Pinot Noir, 14.5%ABV, 305 cases produced
- The Swirl: Translucent and clear with moderate garnet tones. Very pretty – would make a nice piece of jewelry
- The Sniff: Very bright aroma of cherry and cola with hints of smoke and wood
- The Sip: Impressive balance, the initial taste feels slightly carbonated (like pop rock). The sweet cherries are not overwhelming and the finish is wonderfully round with the right amount of acidity.
- The Score: At $50 this wine may be out of reach for the majority of consumers but shows very well and deserves a score of 4 (out of 5).
Overall this round of Pinot Noirs has shown me why there is such a passion for this fruit. You can feel that the wine is a delicate dance and must be carefully crafted to produce a good product.
*This wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
Tags: Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir
10 comments on “Episode #31 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir”
Excellent review Josh, spot on. As a self-proclaimed Pinotphile, I’m glad your not giving up on the fickle beauty… she’s bound to win your heart over too! Thanks for the unexpected shout-out too—bonus!!
You’re welcome! I figured if I was talking about Oregon Wine, I may as well mention three of the experts on the subject!
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Josh – glad to see you haven’t given up on Pinot as well. It can be trying on the wallet, but when you hit a great one it makes it all worthwhile! Too many producers are trying to profit off of the “Sideways” phenomenon though, and there is so much terrible Pinot Noir on the market now to wade through…
Yep, $50 is not chump change. I’ve tried to relegate my research to restaurant by the glass tastings or flight tastings at a local wine bar. Easier to dump $10+ to sample three offerings than to be utterly disappointed with a $50+ bottle.
The WVV Signature Cuvee was special
Thanks for the savvy reviews! I love Oregon Pinot noir and even though the 2007 vintage was said to be a little suspect because of the cool and rainy conditions, I find the 07′ to be very elegant and perhaps a bit more Burgundian in style. Cheers!
I’ve had the Signature Cuvee and thought it was also outstanding. Yes, it’s on the high-end of the price scope for me for this wine type/style, but the bright fruit is pretty great.
Nice post, somehow I was attracted by the ‘high-maintenance drama queen’ premise ;).
Veronique, are you saying that you’re a high maintenance drama queen?
Thomas, now that you mention it, the wine is more Burgundian, probably in part to the weather patterns that year!
Thanks to both of you for your comments!
How true, how true. the 2007s are beauty in the bottle that needs to be treasured for 4 or 5 years to really show its true self. Remember the 2001?
These wines continue to get better as the consumer continues to be patient.
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